Loose Ends- Tuscany

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April 27th 2016
Published: April 27th 2016
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Dateline Pienza, Italy.

Loose Ends

So as we live our life here in Pienza there are things we forget to talk about…

Like the lovely ladies we met while sitting out on the Piazza having a cappuccino. They were girlfriends traveling together. One was from London, one from Belfast, another from Edinburgh and the fourth from Manchester. They were here for a long week end for the Primavera Festival.

Or…walking to the COOP about every other day and stopping at the bakery on the way. We take our grocery bags with us and stroll over to the bakery which is very tiny with one showcase for their cookies and other Italian delights. We sometimes buy bread there too. Each time we go there someone new is behind the counter. None of them speaks English and since our Italian is minimal to say the least we point, smile and say “grazie” quite a bit.

The laundromat… our friend Gary is the King of the Laundromat. He has figured out when to go so the machines are available, and exactly how to get the tokens. You do not need soap or softener as they are automatically dispensed by the washer. There are 2 washing machines and 4 dryers. It is best to get there at about 1-1:30 when the shops close and people go home for lunch. Gary and Cope make good laundry buddies.

Claudia and Gary live down the hill below the town of Pienza, close, but a little bit of an uphill hike coming back to town. They have beautiful views of the Val D’Orcia. Their home is on one level but it is up a flight of stairs. They have a big yard with Horse Chestnut trees, Figs, grass and now the new little Pomegranate tree. There is a stone patio looking out across miles and miles of the fertile green valley, which magically changes throughout the day with the varying sun and clouds.

The Primavera (spring) Festival is this week-end. People are coming here from all over Europe. We didn’t make it out of the house till 1 pm today, which was fine as it has been raining with some thunderstorms. The rain finally decided to stop for a while. So umbrellas in hand, we walked down the road until we were across from the police station and there we found signs pointing us down a side street to the Primavera Festival. We looked inside a big tent with people eating at long tables with benches but we didn’t know how it worked so we just watched for a while. Turns out you go up to a man sitting at a table and he has gigantic menus in front of him. You tell him what you want, he writes it down, you pay for it and then you take your menu to a table. In just a minute or two a young person comes by and takes the menu from you and off he or she goes to get your order. All the while families are laughing and dogs are barking and kids are crying and everyone is just having a lot of fun. Now in our case since we didn’t have much of a clue as to what we were ordering, were waiting in suspense to see what would show up. Back came the young man with a lovely salad, some penne pasta, pecorino cheese, bread and prosciutto. Yea! We knew enough Italian to order a great meal. It was so fun sitting in the tent and watching everyone-it was like a big open air restaurant but under a tent.

We are getting to know the stores on “our” street. Our apartment is up a flight of 23 common stairs, then we go into our door. One side of the apartment (the bedroom) faces the Via Della Rosa , the other side of the apartment-the living room-faces the main street of Pienza, the Corso Rossellino. This is where most of the shops are. You might think it would be noisy but it isn’t. We can look down on the street and see the shops opening, people shopping and we can hear voices as they talk to each other. We never tire of looking out our windows. Out our bedroom window, our “alarm clock” awakens us each morning-it is the street sweeper going down the narrow streets. Pienza is a very clean little town, about 2200 souls, and probably because of the UNESCO designation, and the street sweeper is out every day to welcome the day for us. We can hear his machine beeping down the street as we write this.

Gelato… what can we say. We knew we liked gelato but we had no idea how fresh and delicious it could be. We have gone back a number of times to Buon Gusto on Via Cose Nuevo. Nicola Sgarbi and his friend Giuseppe make the gelato fresh every day. They make 8 kinds and each day the 8 varieties vary. Mint/ Strawberry, Lemon/Berry, Hazelnut , Pistachio, Chocolate and each day they change. Farmers bring them eggs, cheese and other fresh ingredients each day. One day Nicola told us to wait 5 minutes and he would have goat cheese gelato. I said OK, and while we were waiting Cope kept saying “What? You ordered goat cheese gelato? I would never have imagined it!” So half an hour later (5 minutes in Italian time), the goat cheese gelato was ready. OMG, OMG we have never tasted anything so smooth and delicious in our lives. We have been back many times since and the last time it was really cold and windy and Nicola asked if we wanted some hot chocolate. Sure! AH…okay, so this was a VERY special hot chocolate. Take a half glass of fresh hot chocolate, put in a scoop of crème brule gelato and top it all off with fresh whipped cream! Now that is a hot chocolate LOL So…another one for the bucket list... come and taste Nicola and Giuseppe’s gelato here in Pienza.

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